Learn Korean with K-Pop

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Looking for a fun way to learn Korean with K-Pop?

Well if so, you’re in luck! One of the most effective ways to learn Korean is to study Kpop song lyrics.

The great thing about this study method is that song lyrics are easy to memorize. If you learn Korean with Kpop, then the new grammar or vocabulary that you pick up from the songs can help speed up your Korean learning and also make learning more fun.

Even better, if you use K-pop phrases in your flash cards you’ll be reminded of the song which will make it even easier to remember!

Below, we’ll go over some of the lyrics for a few popular songs, and give you explanations about what they mean. Then you can use them in your day-to-day interactions in Korean, or sing along to the songs.

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This article includes phrases written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. If you can’t read Hangul yet it’s possible to learn in about 90 minutes so what are you waiting for?

We’ve included a FREE PDF version of this lesson that you can take with you on the go. Check it out below:

Let’s get started!

BIGBANG –  꽃 길 (Flower Road)

Korean boy group big Bang

Photo: https://www.soompi.com

Bigbang is a K-Pop group who rose to stardom in the early 2000’s. They have a huge fanbase and are remain extremely popular. In early 2018, they made a comeback with the single Flower Road. As always, Bigbang produced a solid hit.

This song was produced by two members of the group, G.Dragon and T.O.P. It was written as the last song before their hiatus due to military enlistment.

Expression:

  • 그리워지면 돌아와 줘요geuriwojimyeon dorawa jwoyo | If you miss me, then come back to me

그리워 (geuriwo)means “miss” and is followed by 지면 (jimyeon) which signifies condition or possibility translating to “if” and also serves as a connector of two clauses. 돌아와 (dorawa) is from the root word 돌아오다 (doraoda) which means come back.

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BLACK PINK뚜두뚜두 (Ddu-du ddu-du)

Korean girl group Black Pink

Photo: https://www.youtube.com

Black Pink debuted in 2016 and was an instant hit topping sales charts and winning New Artist of the Year at the Seoul Music Awards. They solidified their status as an all-star group with hits throughout 2017.

In 2018 their hit “Ddu-du ddu-du” topped the charts on its release and the music video garnered over 30 million views in its first 24 hours becoming the most viewed video by a Korean group in that timeframe.

Expression:

  • 착각하지 마 – chakgakaji ma | Don’t be mistaken

This expression is usually used when you want to correct the belief or perception of a person you are dealing with. The term 착각하다 (chakgakada)means “mistake” or “delude oneself”. Then the expression 지 마 (ji ma) comes from the polite expression 지 마세요 (ji maseyo) which is used to add negation to a request that means “do not”.

ROY KIM그때 헤어지면 돼 (Only then)

Korean singer Roy Kim

Photo: https://chosun.com

Roy Kim is a singer songwriter who debuted through a popular singing competition, Superstar K. He is known to have a unique genre as he utilizes folk, ballad, acoustic and pop in his music.

This song is about a person who is in a relationship but talks about when they would know to break-up. This song was covered by BTS’s Jeon Jungkook. You can see this theme in the following stanza.

Expression:

  • 네가 다른 사람이 좋아지면 – nega dareun sarami joajimyeon | If you like another person

In the first line, 좋아지면 (joajimyeon)means “like” and the word 지면 (jimyeon)stands for “if” and serves as a connector. It’s addressed to 네가 (nega)which  is “you” and then 다른 사람 (dareun saram) meaning “another person”.

  • 내가 너 없는 게 익숙해지면 – naega neo eomneun ge iksukaejimyeon | If I get used to being without you

In the second line, 익숙해지면 (iksukaejimyeon)comes from the root word 익숙하다 (iksukada)which means “accustomed” or “be used to”. Again it is added with 지면 which is a connector. 내가 (naega)means “I” or “me” and  없는 (eomneun) is from 없다 (eopda) which is “none” or “nothing”. 는 (neun) is a particle used to designate the main idea, topic or issue and can be attached to both subject and object.

  • 그때가 오면 그때가 되면 – geuttaega omyeon geuttaega doemyeon | When that time comes, when that happens
  • 그때 헤어지면 돼– Then, we can break up | geuttae heeojimyeon dwae

In the third line, 그때 (geuttae)followed by 가 (ga) can be used to refer to a time in the past or future. In this stanza 그때가 means “at that time”. For 오면 (omyeon)and 되면 (doemyeon)they are both followed by 면 (myeon) which indicates the possibility of the actions 오다 (oda), 되다 (doeda) and 헤어지다 (he-eojida) to take place.

BTOB너 없인 안 된다 (Only One For Me)

Photo: https://www.billboard.com

https://www.billboard.com

 

BTOB is a K-Pop group known for their superb vocals. The group has been active in the industry since 2012. Besides their vocals they’re known to be gifted dancers as well. Recently, they made a comeback with the song “Only One For Me”.  

This song is about a person who decided to pursue and confess his feelings towards the woman he loves. He wants to express his feelings so he won’t regret it in the future.

Expression:

  • 너 없인 안 된다 – neo eopsin ㅊ | I can’t be without you
  • 난 너여야 한다 – nan neoyeoya handa | I must be with you

안 된다 (nan neoyeoya handa)is from the word 되다 (doeda)which can mean “be” and since it is preceded by 안 (an)the phrase literally means “cannot be”.

  • 아무리 생각해도 난 결국 너야 – amuri saenggakaedo nan gyeolguk neoya | No matter what I think, in the end it’s still you.

 아무리 (amuri)is used to express “no matter how” and 생각해 (saenggakae) comes from the root word 생각하다 (saenggakhada)which means “think”.

  • 평생을 후회하며 살 것 같아 – pyeongsaengeul huhoehamyeo sal geot gata | I think I’ll regret it for the rest of my life

 결국 (gyeolguk)means “in the end” or “finally”. 평생 (pyeongsaeng)is “life” and 후회하다 (huhoehada)is “to regret”. 것 같아 (geot gata)is used to express “seems like” or “to be likely to”.

Hyuna – 빨개요 (Red)

Former Wondergirl and 4Minute singer HyunA’s song 빨개요 (ppalgaeyo)moves away from the sickly-sweet image of her that listeners of her previous hit song ‘bubblepop’ might’ve had. Although the lyrics 원숭이 엉덩이는 빨개 (wonsungi eongdeongineun ppalgae | a monkey’s butt is red) are the most catchy of the song, you might find that particular phrase a little bit difficult to use in general conversation.

I also don’t recommend saying 혼내줄테니까 엉덩이 대 (honnaejultenikka eongdeongi dae)in public, either!

Expressions

  • 두고 떠나지마 – nal dugo tteonajima | Don’t leave me / don’t go without me (1:41).

Many K-pop songs use contractions so that the lyrics fit into the song. For example 나는 (naneun) becomes 난 (nan) and 나를 (nareul)becomes 날 (nal). This is important to look out for as these contractions might not come up straight away in a dictionary.

두다 (duda)means to put something down or leave something in a place (for example 책을 책상에 두다 (chaegeul chaeksange duda)would mean to put a book on a desk).

떠나다 (tteonada)means to leave as in ‘to depart’ (출발하다 | chulbalhada – also has the same meaning and is often used in announcements at airports or train stations instead). So 두고 떠나다 (dugo tteonada)means departing without taking the other thing with you.

–지마 (–jima)is a shortened way of saying –지 마세요 (–ji maseyo)which means ‘don’t’ in Korean and can be attached to the end of any verb. Often you will hear 가지마 (gajima | don’t go) in song lyrics instead of 두고 떠나지마 (dugo tteonajima).

  • 지금 너무나 외롭단 말이야 – na jigeum neomuna oeropdan mariya | I’m so lonely right now (1:44).

말이야 (mariya)comes from 말 (mal)meaning word or speech. A common expression using it is 무슨 말이야 (museun mariya)meaning (very informally) ‘what did you say?’. This phrase can be heard often in Korean dramas whenever a character is surprised at the ridiculous situation that is unfolding. Used in this sentence, it is like Hyun-A is saying ‘What I’m saying is I’m so lonely right now.’

SistarTouch My Body

Learn Korean with Sistar

Photo: Bai Lazo

Expressions

  • 둘이 함께 보는 별들 – duri hamkke boneun jeo byeoldeul | The stars we are looking at together (3:03)

둘 (dul)means ‘two’ and in this situation could be translated as ‘the two of us’.

‘A’하는 것 (‘A’haneun geot)is a useful piece of grammar which means ‘the thing that does ‘A’. It is used a lot in Korean, for example ‘저는 운동하는 남자를 좋아해요’ (jeoneun undonghaneun namjareul joahaeyo | I like guys that exercise).

In this lyric ‘보는 별들 (boneun byeoldeul)’ means ‘the stars that are seen / we can see.

함께 (hamkke) is another word for ‘together’ (as opposed to the more common 같이 | gachi).

The following lyric, ‘어느 누구보다 행복해 (eoneu nuguboda haengbokae)’ could be translated as ‘I’m happier than anybody’. 보다 (boda) is another useful word. In Korean to say A is better than B you can say ‘B보다A(이/가) 더 좋다 (B boda A(i/ga) deo jota)’. As you can see, the word order is different in Korean than in the related Korean expression. In this line, ‘A’ (제가 | jega) has been omitted to make the lyric fit into the song.

Another example of this piece of grammar being used with words omitted is the title of the Korean drama ‘꽃보다남자 (kkotbodanamja)’, which translates to ‘boys over flowers’. Fans of this drama can use its title to help them remember this piece of grammar and the word order within it.

‘Touch my Body’ has lots of English in it and the words 우리 (uri | we/us/our) and 지금 (jigeum | now) come up a lot so it could be quite an easy choice to sing along to for some parts at least.

Exo – 늑대와 미녀 (Wolf) 

Learn Korean with Exo Baekhyun

Photo: Hank Loner

The wolf (늑대 | neukdae) in this song title is a word often used as slang for a guy who hits on women.

Expressions

  • 큰일 났지 – keunil natji | he’s in big trouble (0:40)

큰일 (keunil)means ‘problem’, ‘crisis’, or ‘trouble’. When it is used it is usually combined with the verb 나다 meaning ‘to come out’. This verb is also used with other words like 열 (yeol | fever) and 화 (hwa | anger) to make 열이 나다 (yeori nada)and 화가 나다 (hwaga nada). Of course 났다 (natda) is the past tense version of 나다 (nada). Later in the song, this word comes up again in the line ‘널 못 끊겠어, 큰일 났어 (neol mot kkeunkesseo, keunil nasseo)’ meaning ‘I can’t quit you, I’m in big trouble.

Miss AI Caught Ya

Expressions

  • 미안할 자격이 없어요 – neon mianhal jagyeogi eopseoyo | You have no right to be sorry (0:25)

자격이 있다 (jagyeogi itda) is a useful phrase to learn, it means ‘I deserve’ and can be used in many situations such as at the end of a long day when you can say 맥주를 마실 자격이 있어요 (maekjureul masil jagyeogi isseoyo | I deserve a beer).

The opposite of this is 자격이 없다 (jagyeogi eopda)which means ‘don’t deserve’.

As mentioned before, Kpop lyrics often use Korean in a strange way, and this song is no different, using 요 (yo)when there is no need to be polite to a cheating boyfriend. It also sounds a bit strange when compared to some of the song’s other lyrics like 시끄러우니까 꺼져 줄래요 (sikkeureounikka kkeojyeo jullaeyo | shut up and get lost please).

4 Minute미쳐 (Crazy)

Expressions

  • 보고 미쳐 – nal bogo michyeo | Look at me and go crazy (0:54)
  • C.R.A.Z.Y. 따라 – C.R.A.Z.Y. ttara hae | C.R.A.Z.Y. follow me
  • C.R.A.Z.Y. 모두 미쳐 – C.R.A.Z.Y modu da michyeo | C.R.A.Z.Y everybody go crazy

‘고 (go)’ is a way of linking to verbs together and means ‘and’ in English. It is used when the two activities are not directly related.

If they are directly related, then ‘서 (seo)’ is used such as ‘친구를 만나서 놀았어요’ (chingureul mannaseo norasseoyo | I met my friends and played).  In these particular lyrics either 서 (seo) or 고 (go) would be acceptable.

미치다 (michida | to be crazy) is a very popular word in Kpop lyrics. The rest of the chorus uses the expression 따라 해 (ttara hae)which means ‘follow me’ or ‘repeat after me’, as if 4 Minute wants the crowd to shout out C.R.A.Z.Y. You can use this as it is or insert ‘말 (mal)’ to say ‘따라 말 해 (ttara mal hae)’ which would have the same meaning.

 

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Remember, when you learn Korean with Kpop, you need to be careful because, as with Korean dramas, the language used isn’t always the most natural way to say something.

Now that you know the meaning of the lyrics to these songs you can practice while listening and try to form your own sentences. What K-pop songs would you like for us to break down for you next?  Which songs do you think would be the most useful to use when learning Korean? Which Korean songs do you like best for studying? Or most important, which K-pop groups do you think are the best? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

    4 replies to "Learn Korean with K-Pop"

    • Avatar for hobi hobi's girl

      I love the lesson,but “ㄹ” is the letter L and R in English. So how do I know if it is L or R in a sentence.A word like ‘큰 일’ which is pronounced ‘keunil’ , can’t it be ‘keunir’?. What I mean is I don’t know when yo use the L or R in a word or sentence.

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Hobi’s girl! In English, there’s no alphabet that 100% matches the pronunciation of ㄹ. That’s why we use L or R for reference. Please try to pronounce ㄹ as it is instead of using romanizations!

    • Avatar for Yuna Yoshino Yuna Yoshino

      “I’ll search the ?
      널 다시 찾을 때까지
      놓지 않을 거야 티끌 같은 기억도” ?
      _EXO

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